Michigan DUI Laws

Drunk Driving Laws in Michigan

Drunk driving laws in Michigan are broken into three different sections: driving with an illegal blood alcohol content, operating under the influence of alcohol, and operating while impaired. Each offense has different consequences and has varying degrees of severity. When convicting drunk driving cases the prosecution must prove that the individual was under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both; was operating a motor vehicle, and that the alcohol or drugs consumed affected the operation of the motor vehicle.

Under these circumstances the prosecution will attempt to prove that the individual was impaired and unsafe to drive. Evidence will be brought before the court and can include driving patterns, physical appearance, blood alcohol content levels, field sobriety tests, and chemical tests.

The prosecution may also attempt to convict an individual through per se law. Under per se law an individual can be convicted for having a blood alcohol content percentage above the legal limit of 0.08 percent. The prosecution will not provide impairment evidence, rather only a blood alcohol content percentage to prove the body’s chemistry level. In order for a conviction to take place the evidence must show that the individual was operating a motor vehicle, had a blood alcohol content above the legal limit, and that the alcohol consumption weakened the operation of the motor vehicle.

DUI/OWI Charge in Michigan

A Michigan DUI/OWI charge can have a long-lasting impact on an individual’s life if that individual is convicted of a drunk driving charge. The reason for this is due to the fact that Michigan severely punishes a DUI/OWI charge when the individual is found guilty of or pleads guilty to the charge. Here in the State of Michigan, drunk driving charges, regardless of the severity, cannot be removed from an individual’s criminal record. There are multiple variations of a DUI/OWI charge, which range from driving while visibly impaired to driving while intoxicated involving injury or death of another individual. You can also be charged with Operating While Intoxicated (OWI). See MCL 257.625. This offense is classified as a 93 day Misdemeanor, 6 points on your driving record and restricted driving privileges for up to six months, the first 30 days suspended. The court can also impose a term of probation, order jail, require that you perform community service and counseling.

The difference between these offenses are as follows: Impaired Driving is 4 points not 6. You will receive a suspended license for a period of 90 days, yet restrictions will be issued whereby you will be allowed to drive to and during the course of employment. The state of Michigan will impose a $500.00 Responsibility Fee for a period of two years. The court may impose the same terms and conditions as with an OWI.

Operating With High BAC – An OWI charge, which can be an alcohol related crime occurs whem the individual has a BAC of .17 or more. The maximum jail up to 180 days with a possible $200-$700 fine.

Operating While Intoxicated 2nd (aka OWI) has a jail term of 5 days to 1 year and a $200.00 to $1,000.00 fine. This is a misdemeanor her in Michigan, and in order to charged for a second subsequent the prior drunk driving conviction must occur within 7-years of the second drunk driving charge. The license sanction is a 1-year revocation if prior MCL 257.625 conviction within 7 years. The vehicle may also be subject to immobilization pursuant to MCL 257.625.

Operating While Intoxicated 3rd (OWI 3rd) maintains a minimum of 30 days to 1 year in jail, and it is identified as a felony. The licensing sanction is a 1- to 5-year revocation. Here in the State of Michigan, an individual can be charged with an OWI 3rd or subsequent regardless of the duration between convictions, meaning if an individual is convicted of two drunk drivings, lets say 10 years apart, and is then convicted of a third drunk driving 11 years after the second. He or she can still be charged and convicted of OWI 3rd, which is a felony here in the state of Michigan.

ZERO TOLERANCE MCL 257.625(6) – individuals under 21 with a Blood Alcohol Content (aka BAC) and operating a motor vehicle are guilty of a criminal misdemeanor. No statutory jail is required, but the he or she shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than $200.00 or more than $1,000.00 with Licensing Sanctions as follows: 1st offense – 30 day suspension with restrictions after that time; 2nd offense within 7 years is a 90 day suspension.

A DUI/OWI charge can also involve controlled substances or drugs. The statute allows for any presence of a controlled substance (Schedule 1 or 2) in order for an individual to be convicted of a DUI/OWI charge. See MCL 257.625. If an individual has a prescription or legal right to use the controlled substance at issue, he or she may have a defense to a DUI/OWI charge depending upon the circumstances of the matter.

Whenever you are charged of drunk driving (OWI/DUI) you need someone who will stand by your side and fight for you and your criminal record. Drunk driving charges last a life-time. If this is your first, second, third or subsequent it matter to you, your liberty and your license. Josh Jones is here 7-days a week and is ready to defend you and your case. He always has your back.

Minor DUI Laws

Michigan has a zero tolerance law for minors drinking under age and driving. Adults can often legally operate a motor vehicle if their blood alcohol content is below the legal limit, but under the zero tolerance law, a minor will be arrested for having any amount of alcohol in his or her system. Driver’s license suspension will follow along with a possible fine.

Michigan DUI Punishments

Punishments for driving under the influence convictions in Michigan are based on the number of prior offenses an individual has. Punishments can also increase if aggravating circumstances are present. These can include having a minor in the motor vehicle upon arrest, driving over the speed limit, having a blood alcohol content twice the legal limit, and being responsible for the injury to another.

A second DUI offense in seven years will elevate a crime as well as a third offense within ten years of any priors. A first DUI offense can earn imprisonment between ninety-three days and five years, a fine between one thousand dollars and ten thousand dollars, and driver’s license suspension for one year.

A second DUI offense can earn imprisonment between one year and fifteen years, fines between one thousand dollars and ten thousand dollars, and driver’s license suspension between one year and five years. A third, fourth, or fifth DUI offense can earn imprisonment between one year and fifteen years, a fine between one thousand dollars and ten thousand dollars, and driver’s licenses suspension for a minimum of five years.

DUI offenses can be either misdemeanor offenses or felony offenses, depending on the aggravated circumstances and the number of prior offenses. Causing the death of another individual will result in an automatic prison sentence of five years or more, no matter the number of priors. Causing another serious injury will result in two years of imprisonment not matter the number of priors.

Michigan Ignition Interlock Program

Here in the State of Michigan, numerous courts throughout the state have been involved in a pilot program utilizing ignition interlock devices for drunk driving charges and conviction. The Michigan ignition interlock program places a device inside an individual’s motor vehicle, which then requires the individual to blow into the device in order for the vehicle to start. If the individual has been drinking or has alcohol in their breath or system the device attached to the motor vehicle will register a positive result and not allow the individual to use the vehicle.

MLive recently wrote an article detailing the success rate of the Michigan ignition interlock program, which shows less than four (4) percent of individuals who have been through the program have repeated their prior drunk driving behavior. It should be noted that the Michigan ignition interlock program was implemented in 2011, and since then it has been reported that individual recidivism has decreased in the counties instituting the interlock program. These areas include Oakland, Kent, Kalamazoo, Grand Traverse and Marquette.

If the individual is found to be in violation of the Michigan ignition interlock program they could potentially lose their ability to drive altogether. Typically, individuals in these programs have the ability to drive on a restricted license. A violation of the Michigan ignition interlock program would consist of an individual blowing a positive alcohol sample into the device prior to starting or during operation of their motor vehicle. Again, the purpose of the device is for the vehicle to remain inoperable unless the individual owner is alcohol free. Moreover, it should also be noted that the individual convicted of drunk driving will be the one responsible for the expense of the interlock device.

Drunk driving charges and convictions have a serious and long lasting impact on an individual’s life, which is touched on by the information above. The Michigan ignition interlock program is only part of the repercussions, penalties and possibilities attached to a drunk driving charge. Whenever you face or potentially face a drunk driving charge, you should and must contact a criminal defense attorney. It is never advisable to represent yourself based upon information on this website or any other website without the assistance of adequate legal counsel.

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